by Pete Gerr on October 6, 2011
When was the last time you were truly inspired by a piece of technology? When was the last time your laptop, your phone or another device made you sit back, pause, and say “wow, that’s awesome!”Although there are many examples of beautiful or functional design, chances are one of Apple’s products, be it the iPod, iPhone, iPad or Mac, has given you an experience such as this. With the passing of Steve Jobs, perhaps the greatest thing I will miss is how he was able to inspire us, both with his products, but also in the passion he felt for guiding their design, manufacturing and marketing.
Overcoming challenges, struggle and even humiliation can serve to both discourage and inspire. Having been fired from the company he helped to found, Steve returned and ultimately transformed Apple into much more than a niche manufacturer of “over-priced, over-designed”(as some would say) personal computers for artists and teachers. In the past 10 years, Jobs and his leadership team literally reinvented the way we use, and even think about, what a phone is and what it can do for us. They reinvented the ways in which we listen, buy and share music with the iPod. They even have changed the ways, and even the places, in which we work with the iPad.
I think we often forget that the technology that surrounds us is simply a set of tools, a means to an end, and at its most effective, technology should simply fade into the background so that we can get on to the real work or fun, we need or want to do. Apple’s products, Steve’s products, do that more often and more consistently than any I know of.
Steve Jobs was more than just a corporate leader who helped to design and market great technology, though, which is why millions of people are pausing today to remember his life. Steve inspired us not only with his products, but with his persona. Can you name another corporate leader that is truly inspirational? Does your wireless carrier’s CEO inspire you? Perhaps your bank’s President makes you want to do more than you thought you could? What about your country’s president? Being a leader is difficult enough, but being an inspiration is something truly different. Inspiration is also something very close to Hitachi’s core beliefs, in fact our corporate slogan, “Inspire the Next”, reminds us of our true role as an employee of this global, and extremely diverse, 100-year-old company.
True, leaders must have vision, but to be effective and to affect change, they must be people of action. One of the hallmarks of a great leader, perhaps the greatest, is to instill passion in others, to inspire other people to do great things for, and with, you and for others.
Perhaps in his departing this world, as in his life, Steve Jobs will inspire us and the next generation of great entrepreneurs and leaders to do better, do more, go farther…and to always “Think Different”. Part of me, a big part, believes that Steve is already on to his next great adventure, and ready to inspire others.
Wherever he may be…
Great read Pete! I would certainly concur with you on many of the things you say. I was late to the Apple bandwagon, having gotten my first iPod, and jumping in with iTunes, back only in mid-2006. Since then I have adopted a 27″ iMac, two Apple TVs, one 17″ MacBook Pro, 2 other iPods and an iPhone 4! Not to mention various other hardware and software like Aperture. And I can honestly say that the consumer experience, across the board, from the purchase to the packaging to the actual product and performance, has been exceptional! And now I see how much of Steve was in that experience. His death is quite the loss to the technology world.
Steve Jobs is a legend, one that I wish I had paid more attention too frankly. I was on the Intel/DOS/Windows side of the world and sadly it caused me to really miss the rise of a great man and the birth, and rebirth of Apple.